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Digital/Computer Forensics Explained

Just as most financial transactions are carried out on computer, and most business accounts managed on computers, so most financial frauds are carried out using computers. Even if computers are not used to carry out a fraud directly, they can be used to plan and co-ordinate the fraud, and to disperse and launder funds afterwards. Traces of all this activity can be found on computers if you know where to look. The stuff of CSI is fast becoming a reality

Digital forensics is the process of recovering and analysing deleted, cached and hidden data from computers, mobile phones, mobile tablets, servers, cameras – basically from anything that can store data in digital form.   The job of a digital forensic scientist is to find evidence of criminal activity on a computing device, analyse that evidence and present the findings to a legal team.  It is his or her job to recover:

  • Company and web emails
  • Websites browsed
  • Internet chat conversations
  • Mobile phone text (SMS) messages
  • Internet search terms and searches
  • Graphics files
  • Hidden/deleted documents and files
  • Damaged or corrupt documents and files
  • Password protected documents
  • Many encrypted files

Computer forensic technology is not just restricted to examining computer workstations, laptops and servers. It can also be used to analyse:

  • Archive storage on tapes, CDs, DVDs and network storage devices
  • Mobile phones for text messages, call details, camera phone images and stored contact details
  • Portable email devices for emails and text messages, call records, address books and stored documents
  • Portable storage media such as USB pens and external drives
  • Media players and iPods
  • Digital cameras
  • Physical access control devices (CCTV, swipe card locks)
  • Digitally recorded phone records
  • Smart cards and much more.

In a business environment, digital forensics can help companies to be proactive in the handling of a breach of company rules. It helps companies to take control of events, allowing them to minimise damage to reputation and revenues, and helps them to recover losses. Where necessary it can greatly increase the chance of successful prosecutions, and will at the very least lessen companies legal exposure.



Updated: Wed, 05 Oct 2011 08:53:49 BST